Date
July 19, 2021
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For 2021, Dutch Design Week (DDW) has chosen the overarching theme of ‘The Greater Number’, the quest for the better number.

With this year’s theme, DDW on the one hand calls for less. Less consumption, less production, and therefore less waste. On the other hand, we know less isn’t always possible and that when it comes to more, it should be better. In other words, more sustainable products with more value, so that consumers deal with products differently.

The theme is about striving to change the behaviour of consumers and manufacturers. By looking for renewed value between consumer and product, we can move towards changes in design practices.

Under “The Greater Number” theme, there will be different sub-themes presented at this year’s Dutch Design Week:

Cabinet of collaborations

In ‘Cabinet of collaborations’, we focus on the use of design power for business and the need for responsible, improved scaling up.

The world’s population is growing and simultaneously leading to a growing need for resources. More food, more healthcare, more housing, and more stuff. The desired level of prosperity poses serious challenges for the way we treat our resources, energy, and each other.

The industry has had a negative connotation in this regard for years. It’s dirty, ugly, and polluting. Yet, we are largely depending on it. How can we change this? By joining forces and involving designers in these challenges, industry and the design field can work together on improvement and responsible upscaling: improved scaling up.

That is what the subtheme ‘Cabinet of collaborations’ is about, the power of design as an increase in value and the opportunity for designers to work with business and industry. An interplay that leads to new insights on both sides.

Curious to know more about Dutch Design Week, don’t miss our Interview with Martijn Paulen, CEO of Dutch Design Week.

Dutch Design Week 2021 - Cabinet of Collaborations
The ‘Cabinet of collaborations’ theme focuses on the use of design power for business and the need for responsible, improved scaling up – ©Nick Bookelaar

One size won’t fit all

‘One size won’t fit all’ is about the need for an inclusive, diverse society. A realisation that is slowly taking hold in society, while being met with a lot of resistance and incomprehension.

An inclusive society is a society that is committed to the participation of all, a society in which every citizen has a stake and where the notion of mutuality is at the very core. It is also a society in which everyone feels seen and represented. These notions are often taken for granted in the Netherlands, but in practice, they are far from self-evident.

Designers with a non-western cultural background, female-identifying or non-binary designers, designers from the lower economic classes, and designers with a physical disability are underrepresented. The sector continues to be dominated by one specific group: highly educated white men. A specific group that designs and sets standards for a very diverse society.

 Inclusive Design theme
The ‘One size won’t fit all’ theme is about the need for an inclusive, diverse society – Image Courtesy of Dutch Design Week

The result is products that everyone uses but that don’t always fit the user’s identity, lifestyle, or cultural background. A fitness tracker monitoring sleep, perspiration, and heart rate, but never a menstrual cycle.

Driver seats in cars that are on average four inches too long for women’s legs, putting women at greater risk of car accidents. And the number of beauty products for people of colour make up a mere fraction of what’s available. Which is mainly aimed at white women. But larger systems that have a huge impact on our everyday life, such as those of the tax authorities, governments, or municipalities, are also often designed by a single type of designer with a single type of user in mind.

One size won’t fit all is a plea for a more diverse and inclusive design field. A plea for more designers with diverse and inclusive backgrounds. During DDW21, this plea will not only be made through an extensive presentation of projects that are truly inclusive and diverse but also through an active form of collaboration between DDW and diverse groups from society.

 Its on our nature
The ‘It’s in our nature’ theme is about the relationship between man and nature – Image Courtesy of Dutch Design Week

It’s in our nature

‘It’s in our nature’ is about the relationship between man and nature and how that relationship can be restored. It’s not about more or less, it’s about ‘equal to. Read more information about this theme here.

 Things that matter

‘Things that matter’ examines the relationship between people and products, and the design of value. More information is available here.

Find out what happened in the last edition of DDW, don’t miss Dutch Design Week 2020, the online centre of the creative industry: innovation, experimentation and new sustainable materials.

Things that matter
The ‘Things that matter’ theme examines the relationship between people and products, and the design of value – Image Courtesy of Dutch Design Week

Ambassadors of 2021 Dutch Design Week include:

Floris Alkemade

Floris is a former government architect. A role in which he advised the Dutch Minister of the Interior on architectural and urban development. He will be initiating a project on the ‘Cabinet of Collaborations’, our sub-theme calling for a more sustainable approach to scaling and the power of design in helping businesses towards a more sustainable approach.

Christien Meindersma

Christien explores the life of products and materials and will be creating a project on ’Things that Matter’, researching the relationship between people and products and how value is created.

Natsai Audrey Chieza

Natsai is a leading thinker on the transformative role design can play in the development of consumer biotechnology. She is the ambassador of our sub-theme called ‘It’s in Our Nature’, about repairing the relationship between people and nature through design. Natsai is working on a project for DDW21 that will be used as input for the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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